Update: I decided to make this for dinner tonight. One of the pitfalls of writing a recipe from memory is that certain things an be omitted or wrong. I had to revise the amount of condensed soup. And since I did a truly salt-free version, I added Parmesan cheese atop for more flavor. The upside is I got to take some photos!
I chuckle to myself every time I make this dish and think about how it got its name. When our daughter was about three or four, I finally got her to taste this simple dish of beef and noodles in a sour cream sauce. When I told her the name, she didn’t quite understand me correctly and said, “Strong enough? Like this?” Then she proceeded to pose with her arm muscles flexed in the classic strong man stance. I burst out laughing, and she giggled and giggled and ran around the house shouting “Strong Enough! Strong Enough!” with her arms raised high. The name was then born. For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, Strong Enough = Stroganoff.
My mother made this dish often, which was a quick and easy dinner to prepare for a house full of six hungry kids. This was not the Russian version made with strips of tender beef, fresh mushrooms and roux-based cream sauce, but a skillet full of ground beef mixed with cans of cream of chicken and mushroom soup and a carton of sour cream thrown in. Boil a big pot of water, cook a bag or two of egg noodles, and voilà — “Strong Enough” for the entire family.
I’ll be the first to admit that I make it my mom’s way more often than not when I’m in a pinch on a busy work night. But when I have the time and the ingredients on hand, I make a healthier version with a homemade salt-free cream base rather than the sodium-riddled canned variety. I do still use ground beef, but I’m sure this would work with beef strips if you add a little oil to the skillet first. My mom used to make this with wide egg noodles, and so did I, but my husband said they get too mushy as leftovers, so now I use the sturdier bow-tie pasta.
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Mrs. Dash, Garlic and Herb Blend
Splash of white wine
2 “servings” of cream of mushroom soup — recipe here: http://bit.ly/AnHON3
4 to 8 ounces sour cream
1/2 box of bow-tie pasta (also known as Farfalle)
Cook the cream of mushroom soup and set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. In a large skillet, begin browning the ground beef. After a few minutes, stir in the onion, celery, mushrooms, garlic and seasonings to taste. Stir occasionally until the mushrooms have released their water and reduced and the burger has cooked through. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine. Put the pasta in the pot of boiling water now. Add the cream of mushroom soup and bring to a simmer. Stir in sour cream, and simmer until pasta is done. Serve over the hot noodles.
Note: I never thought to take a picture of Stroganoff when I make it, as it’s not a very exciting dish to look at. But I did happen to have some bow-tie pasta in one of my canisters so I snapped a shot of that instead.